The wet season that starts in late Fall through to Spring is a very important nutrient recovery period for the Southern Oregon gardener. It is a time of biological breakdown that replaces the essential soil nutrients that have been used up during the previous growing season. The energy that has left the soil is now medicine being consumed by patients, and needs to be replenished for the coming season!
Winter is a time of abundant life and soil activity due to the presence of ample atmospheric moisture and the relatively mild temperatures of Southwestern Oregon. Due to this biological explosion that occurs in winter we must be aware of the importance in supporting that life by feeding it in the form of mulch. Think of mulch as a spongy winter blanket for your growing area. It retains moisture and acts as a reservoir of food for the soil to continually work on breaking down. The longer an area of ground has been mulched the more stable and consistent the fertility becomes for that spot. As the soil life increases in mass it consumes more mulch and therefore is able to produce higher rates of fertility. This is what leads to bigger plant production in the No-Till world. Mulching in winter also insulates the ground which stabilized temperatures and promotes more habitat and food for the soil’s biological life. Heavy mulch also suppresses winter and spring grass growth which makes planting in spring easier.
We make our mulch from our animal wastes. We manage a diverse herd of goats, sheep, chickens, lamas and donkeys. The animal bedding from coups and the barns provide a healthy supply of mulch for our gardens. Our animal bedding mulch is essentially the wasted hay they did not eat layered with manure. This mulch coupled with wood chips of all sorts, from tree trimming companies, is applied heavily after harvest in the fall. The wood chips support fungal life and the animal bedding support more bacteria. As long as we care for the soil by keeping it mulched we can trust in nature to do the rest, for it is nature that grows the plants, not us. We believe our role is to steward the soil, so that it thrives and continually provides us with our foods and medicines.
Here at GSG we believe that there is no need to source amendments from stores in order to achieve high quality medicine. We actually believe that the highest quality medicines are those growing in a biologically and ecologically intact soil habitat that is NOT dependent on concentrated amendments for productivity but rather depend on a functioning system of life in the soil. Plants with their roots in the earth, not pots, are more capable of being connected with the earth’s soil ecology and earthly healing vibrations.